Here are the first 13 of my WIP fantasy novel. Not much goes on, as its only the first 13, but I figured I'd see what you guys thought anway. This is the first draft, so shred it if needed.
<start WIP> The cold air burned his lungs as he raced over the small hill. He glanced back quickly, and saw that his brother was only a step back. This spurred him on, and he pumped his legs even harder. “You can’t beat me brother.” Julian mocked. “I’ll be 97 years old and still outrunning you,” he continued as he passed Septo. As Septo reached the bottom of the hill Julian was already six or seven paces ahead, and his lead was growing. Not wanting to give up, Septo continued running to the finish line, even though Julian had crossed about ten seconds ahead. “You’re only three years younger than me, we are the same size, and we have the same parents. Yet, in our twenty-two years together, I have only beat you once in a footrace!” Septo panted.
This is my first fragment posted here, so I'm excited to see what you guys and gals have to say.
Quote: ____________________________________ “You’re only three years younger than me, we are the same size, and we have the same parents. Yet, in our twenty-two years together, I have only beat you once in a footrace!” Septo panted." ____________________________________
This sounds a bit forced to me because the brother would know all of this and not need to be told in a conversation. It is obvious that you are trying to convey background information to the me, reader. Can this information be worked in more subtly as part of the story?
Also, I'm not understanding why they are in their 90s but have only been together for 22 years. You will no doubt expound on this later in the story, but it confuses me rather than entices me to read more.
quote:The cold air burned his lungs as he raced over the small hill. He glanced back quickly, and saw that his brother was only a step back. This spurred him on, and he pumped his legs even harder. “You can’t beat me brother.” Julian mocked. “I’ll be 97 years old and still outrunning you,” he continued as he passed Septo.
- How can Julian glance back and see his brother, and then pass him? - Use their names in the first paragraph. There's no reason to withhold them. - Does he really call him 'brother'? If that's the case, it would be capitalized, like Mother. However, I think it's awkward. In the middle of a race, he wouldn't add 'Brother'. He'd just go, "Nyah nyah! You can't beat me!" (Well, without the nyah nyah.) - I was also confused about the 97 years old thing. I backed up and read it again to understand what you meant, but the fact that I had to back up is a clue.
Overall, I am having a very hard time figuring out the POV. It feels like it keeps switching.
I agree with others about the last dialog coming across strongly as exposition. And since you tagged that dialog with 'panted' I had a really hard time believing he would say that much while he was that winded.
Speaking of 'panted', and also 'mocked', why not just 'said'? In both cases, the respective mocking or panting was fairly implied.
I'm not really hooked, but I think that has to do with all the bumping around in POV and lack of a reason to care. You did give a reason to care, but you gave it in exposition, so I think that's why it didn't hit home.
However, I smell a good story around the corner. If you need readers, I can't take anything for about 2 weeks, but after that I'll be glad to take a look.
I agree with what it's been pointed out so far.
And I'll add that, as it is, these first 13 don't hook me. I don't see any questions that need anwering.
I have two brothers and they're running up a hill. At first -when I thought the guy was 97 years-old (like Calligrapher did)- I thought 'well, interesting . Yet, he's only known his brother for 22 years...hmm'. I had an itched to be scratched, then, I had none.
Just a note about how I read Sci-fi as opposed to how I read other fiction. In the first paragraph's reference to the 97 year olds having a foot race .... I'm thinking this is a group of super humans that remain physically vital into old age. I was anticipating that longevity aspect to be the sci-fi hook into the story.
Posts: 136 | Registered: Nov 2005
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quote:I also understand about the hook, but trust me, it's there. Just later in the first chapter.
Are you going to say this in the cover letter when you submit your manuscript so that the editor will keep reading past the first 13?
Edit: That came across rather harsh. I didn't mean it to. I was teasing.
The point of the hook is to, well, hook us. If we're not hooked, we won't read on. So it needs to be up front. Or, if the Big Hook is going to come later, you still have to provide a Less-Big Hook up front. Notice I didn't say a small hook.
Wow, I sure typed the word 'hook' a lot.
[This message has been edited by sojoyful (edited November 29, 2005).]
This is how I decide which short story to read first in a new sci-fi mag or anthology: I'm brutal to the authors in that I read only the first paragraph or two of each and every story. Based on that small sample of the writing I decide which story I will read on my bus ride to work, or after dinner or whatever. I want to know immediately what the story is "about" because my time is valuable.
I read the beginnings of stories more like the way I would read non fiction or even a text book. I'm looking only for information that grounds me and lets me know what's happening immediately. Only after that beginning do I settle into the story and allow myself to be carried away.
THank you guys so much for all the great feedback!
I see your ponits about the hooks, but please keep in mind that this is a novel, not a short story. I am limited in what I can do with 13 lines of text. I need to establish setting, mood, character, etc.
I will go back and give it some revisions based on what you guys have said, and post in the future.
I look forward to seeing this piece again in the future.
I totally understand what you're saying about the length affecting what you can do. I'm facing the same problem. What helps me is to try to remember that the hook doesn't have to be the plot. It just has grab the reader so that they will stick around while I explain the plot. I hope that is helpful to you. Good luck!